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E.g., 07/30/2016
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  • Editor's Note

    Science finds many tricks for traveling to the past

    Talking about her cover story on what iron-loving elements are telling geologists about the Earth’s deep past, Alexandra Witze likens these rare metals to time travelers. They can tell you, she says, what was happening more than 4.5 billion...

    07/27/2016 - 16:14 Earth, Evolution, Cosmology
  • News

    New scenario proposed for birth of Pacific Plate

    A three-way tectonic tango may have led to the birth of what is now the largest chunk of Earth’s crust.

    By scrutinizing what little geologic evidence remains from 190 million years ago, researchers reconstructed the origins of the Pacific tectonic plate, which now covers a fifth of Earth’s surface. The plate formed during the...

    07/27/2016 - 14:00 Earth
  • Feature

    Iron-loving elements tell stories of Earth’s history

    View the slideshow

    Four and a half billion years ago, after Earth’s fiery birth, the infant planet began to radically reshape itself, separating into distinct layers. Metals — mostly iron with a bit of nickel — fell toward the center to form a core. The growing core also vacuumed up other metallic elements, such as platinum, iridium and gold.

    By the time...

    07/27/2016 - 07:00 Earth, Chemistry
  • News

    Ancient air bubbles could revise history of Earth’s oxygen

    Whiffs of ancient air trapped in rock salt for hundreds of millions of years are shaking up the history of oxygen and life on Earth.

    By carefully crushing rock salt, researchers have measured the chemical makeup of air pockets embedded inside the rock. This new technique reveals that oxygen made up 10.9 percent of Earth’s atmosphere around 815 million years ago. Scientists have thought...

    07/25/2016 - 07:00 Earth, Chemistry, Evolution
  • News

    How dinosaurs hopped across an ocean

    Two land bridges may have allowed dinosaurs to saunter between Europe and North America around 150 million years ago.

    The bridges would explain how dinosaurs, mammals and other animals were able to hop from one continent to the other after the Atlantic Ocean formed during the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent. Some species of Stegosaurus, for instance, appear in the fossil...

    07/22/2016 - 10:48 Earth, Paleontology
  • What Were They Thinking?

    Underwater city was built by microbes, not people

    When snorkelers discovered what appeared to be ancient stonework off the coast of the Greek island of Zakynthos in 2013, archaeologists sent to the site thought the odd rocks might be the ruins of an ancient city. But among the columns, bagel-shaped rings and paving stone‒like rocks, they found no telltale pottery shards or other artifacts. Soon after, geochemist Julian Andrews of England’s...

    07/08/2016 - 12:30 Oceans, Earth, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Nuclear bomb debris can reveal blast size, even decades later

    A new type of fallout forensics can reconstruct nuclear blasts decades after detonation. By measuring the relative abundance of various elements in debris left over from nuclear explosions, researchers say they can accurately estimate the amount of energy released during the initial blast.

    As proof of concept, the researchers estimated the yield of the 1945 Trinity nuclear test in New...

    07/05/2016 - 15:17 Chemistry, Earth, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Winning helium hunt lifts hopes element not running out

    The world’s known helium reserves just ballooned. Applying gas-finding techniques from the oil industry, scientists uncovered a vast reservoir of more than a trillion liters of helium gas beneath Tanzania. That’s enough to satisfy the world’s helium needs for around seven years, the researchers announced June 28...

    06/27/2016 - 18:30 Earth, Chemistry
  • News

    Deep-sea hydrothermal vents more abundant than thought

    The deep, dark ocean bottom teems with far more oases of life than once thought.

    Searching along the sunless seafloor where tectonic plates pull apart, regions known as spreading ridges, researchers discovered that heat-spewing hydrothermal vents are at least three to six times as abundant as previously...

    06/20/2016 - 07:00 Oceans, Earth, Ecosystems
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers weigh in on ET and the meaning of life

    All about aliens

    New telescopes and spacecraft will soon help researchers scour our galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life. But what might aliens look like? And if they do exist, why haven’t they returned our calls? These are just some of the...

    06/16/2016 - 14:38 Astrobiology, Earth, Animals